JLF Research Archive

Showing items 426 to 450 of 501

(6.03.02) The Miseducation Lottery: Public Presented With Inflated Revenues, Benefits

Gov. Mike Easley's proposed budget for FY 2002-03 includes $250 million in revenue from a state-run lottery that has yet to be enacted. Among many legitimate objections to the administration's idea are that expected net revenue is inflated by between 37 percent and 62 percent - creating a hole in the budget of as much as $96 million — and that the administrative costs of the lottery tax exceed both the cost of alternative taxes and any revenue "loss" to out-of-state lotteries.

(5.28.02) Easley Budget Hikes Taxes: 2002-03 Spending, Revenue Ideas Deserve Scrutiny

Gov. Mike Easley's proposed budget adjustments for FY 2002-03 help to frame the coming fiscal debate in North Carolina. The plan relies primarily on increasing revenues — including more than $400 million in tax hikes, $250 million from a theoretical state lottery, and $210 million from raiding the state‘s Highway Trust Fund — rather than on budget savings. And contrary to the governor's assertion, his plan would increase state spending in the midst of a fiscal emergency.

(5.06.02) Changing Course V: An Updated Alternative Budget for North Carolina

With news of a worsening state budget and a weakened state economy, Locke Foundation analysts have updated last year's alternative budget with new projected savings and tax changes for FY 2002-03. The resulting Changing Course V budget would eliminate the deficit, repeal last year's hikes in sales and income taxes, stimulate the economy through additional tax relief and highway investment, and protect highpriority items such as public safety and classroom teachers.

(5.06.02) Changing Course V: An Updated Alternative Budget for North Carolina

With news of a worsening state budget and a weakened state economy, Locke Foundation analysts have updated last year's alternative budget with new projected savings and tax changes for FY 2002-03. The resulting Changing Course V budget would eliminate the deficit, repeal last year's hikes in sales and income taxes, stimulate the economy through additional tax relief and highway investment, and protect highpriority items such as public safety and classroom teachers.

(5.01.02) Good Spin, Bad Science: American Lung Association Report Deserves Scorn

The American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air" reports are treated as scientific and informative by the state news media. They are neither. They use outdated information that reflect changing weather patterns rather than real pollution and are biased against jurisdictions like North Carolina with high numbers of ozone monitors. As a result, the reports supply propaganda for lobbyists for heavier regulation but do a great disservice to science and the general public.

(4.17.02) Truth or Consequences: Official Data Tell Real Story about NC Fiscal Woes

In recent months, public officials have made a range of statements in an attempt to explain persistent state and local budget woes. Many of these assertions do not square with the facts. A collection of graphs and tables shows clearly that North Carolina government is out of line with neighboring states in spending, employment, and taxes. Moreover, revenue growth outpaced personal income growth during the 1990s, while debt service costs are projected to triple over 10 years.

(4.15.02) Warning Signs: A Survey of North Carolina Business Leaders

A 2002 survey of North Carolina’s most politically active business executives found that they did not necessarily agree with the current direction of public policy in the state. Business leaders from every region answered questions about fiscal policy, education, transportation, tax rates, regulation, and ways to improve economic competitiveness. They disagreed strongly with legislative decisions to raise taxes.

(3.21.02) Junk Science on Soot: Flawed Study Can't Justify Clean Smokestacks Bill

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association alleges a significant increase in lung cancer risk for those exposed to high-levels of particulate matter, commonly called soot. In North Carolina, the news media and others have cited the study to boost support for the proposed Clean Smokestacks bill. But according to expert analysis, the study is so flawed that it should have been rejected by the journal. Moreover, it does not establish a case for new regulation.

(3.21.02) The Smokestacks Tax: Who Pays, and How Much, With New Regulations

To date, debate over the proposed Clean Smokestacks bill has focused primarily on the purported air-quality benefits, which would be negligible. Little attention has been paid to the cost, which could be substantial given North Carolina's already high electricity and tax rates compared to its neighbors'. This study estimates the impact on such institutions as school districts and manufacturers. The higher prices and lost jobs must be weighed against any potential benefits.

(3.07.02) Foggy Facts on Smog: NC Ozone Levels Aren't Bad or Getting Worse

Flawed studies and ignorance about North Carolina air quality have given lawmakers and the general public an inaccurate picture of trends in ground-level ozone, or "smog," in some cases exaggerating public exposure by a factor of 10. This study reexamines air-quality data from monitors across the state, concluding that exposure to dangerous ozone levels is surprisingly rare - and is dropping even without passage of the proposed "Clean Smokestacks" legislation.

(2.18.02) State of Emergency: Time to Rework Economic Development Policy

North Carolina's approach to economic development policy has failed, with the state’s high tax burden, lack of industrial diversity, and hostility to entrepreneurial effort contributing to a painful decline in employment and competitiveness. Public policymakers should rethink their reliance on central-planning models and schemes to subsidize specific businesses or regions. Instead, the state should lower taxes and avoid costly regulatory mistakes like the "Clean Smokestacks" bill.

(2.07.02) By the Numbers 2002: What Government Costs in North Carolina Cities and Counties

By the Numbers 2002: What Government Costs in North Carolina Cities and Counties is a publication of the Center for Local Innovation, a division of the John Locke Foundation. Its purpose is to inform North Carolinians about their local governments and promote debate and discussion about the future of city and county fiscal policy in North Carolina. It is not intended to advance or impede legislation before local, state, or federal lawmaking bodies.

(1.28.02) Will It Be Sami So-So? Caution Warranted on New Air-Quality Studies

The Southern Appalachian Mountain Initiative (SAMI) is a consortium of eight Southeastern states, including North Carolina, and several federal agencies. It is now beginning to publish its research, more than a decade in the making, and will likely help to shape the debate on air quality for years. State policymakers should be cautious in interpreting SAMI data and analyses, however, due to troubling signs that it may not be looking at both sides of the regulatory equation.

(1.23.02) A New Year, A New Hole: NC Must Close Budget Gap While Cutting Taxes

According to state economists, North Carolina will face another budget deficit in FY 2001-02 of between $450 million and $900 million. The state's economy, weighted down by high taxes and poor public services, continues to lag behind the rest of the country. Unlike last year, policymakers cannot exempt such big-ticket items as Floyd relief, tobacco-settlement funds, universities, Medicaid, and bonds from scrutiny - and they should consider repealing last year's tax hikes.

(12.28.01) State Made Its Fiscal Bed: Escalating Budgets Imperiled Finances Before Floyd

Responding to Gov. Jim Hunt's call for $830 million in emergency hurricane relief, state lawmakers have nearly drained the state's rainy day fund. Calls for state tax hikes or a new borrowing binge have only been put off until the 2000 legislative session. But state leaders have no one to blame for the coming budget crisis but themselves. As national data reveal, North Carolina has hiked spending far more rapidly than the average state with little regard for the long-term impact.

(12.20.01) Is NC Really Undertaxed? Release of Progress Board Report Spreads Myths

A report released last week by the North Carolina Progress Board contained hundreds of long-term goals for the state. But the text was overshadowed by the comments of board member and UNC-W Chancellor James Leutze, who said the report showed North Carolina would never make it to the top tier of states without tax increases. Leutze's remarks were ill-timed and ill-informed but reflect the conventional wisdom about taxes and social progress. It’s wrong.

(12.14.01) Don't Tap Rainy Day Fund: State Package Overstates Proper State Relief Role

State lawmakers are being asked to tap the rainy day fund to finance hurricane relief. They should look more closely at the details of the administration proposal. It provides large windfalls to businesses, farmers, homeowners, and others far beyond what is needed to alleviate immediate suffering and repair public infrastructure. A relief plan reflecting better priorities could be financed with budget savings, so the rainy day fund could be used to repay $240 million in illegal taxes.

(12.07.01) N.C. Budget Behemoth: General Fund Grows At Nearly Twice The U.S. Rate

North Carolina's 1998-99 state budget grew by between 10 percent and 11 percent (depending on the measurement used) compared with the national average for state budget growth of only 5.4 percent. This follows a similar pattern last year. Growth in spending on Medicaid and education fueled North Carolina's exceptional budget increase. Overall, North Carolina spends more of its budget on education and correction, and less on Medicaid, than the average state. This mostly reflects differences in responsibilities given to local government.

(12.01.01) Measuring Up: How North Carolina's Faculty Salaries Compare

Author Jon Sanders studies professor salaries across the United States and finds that the pay of North Carolina's college and university professors, when adjusted for cost of living, is comparable to the pay of faculty in other states. (Not available online.)

(11.22.01) No Floyd Fiscal Crisis: True State Needs Can Be Met By Rainy-Day Fund

As leaders of the N.C. General Assembly discuss the possibility of a special session in December, preliminary indications are that appropriate state spending for hurricane relief will be far lower than expected. The Hunt administration's emergency request for $1.8 billion from Congress was inflated and its assumptions unrealistic. For government infrastructure and aid to those without other access to relief, total cost will not exceed state funds already available for next year.

(11.13.01) Winning Issues: Exit Poll, JLF Poll Found Conservative Viewpoint

North Carolina's dramatic election on November 7 selected a slate of federal, state, and local leaders, but slim margins and a focus on personalities and name recognition gave few winners a clear mandate on issues. Polls taken before and after the vote consistently found an electorate that was fiscally conservative and favorable to increased consumer choice in such areas as health care, education, and Social Security. Policymakers should seek consensus on these critical issues.

(11.09.01) End Swiss Cheese Tax Code: New Research Suggests Different Growth Agenda

Three new studies should give North Carolina policymakers pause about the state's current economic development policy. A Kenan Institute survey of international firms throws cold water on the notion that selective tax breaks for big business are an effective means of creating jobs. Along with two other reports, it suggests a different growth agenda: improve core public services such as roads and schools, tackle electricity restructuring, and reduce and reform taxes for everyone.

(10.29.01) Final Budget Grows 11%: 1998 Is A Year Of Spending Growth, Not Tax Cuts

The lengthy budget negotiations between House and Senate this year resulted in a compromise that gave the Senate its spending priorities this year and the House its tax cuts in future years. Overall, when accounted for correctly, the state General Fund budget will top $13.1 billion in FY 1998-99, representing an 11 percent increase from last year. Spending growth outweighs tax cuts in FY 1998-99 by a ratio of 25 to 1 — but the picture improves somewhat in the out years, when House-sought cuts in sales and inheritance taxes are phased in.

(10.07.01) Smart Start Fails Test: Studies Show Little Benefit, Make Case for Reform

A new six-county study of Smart Start shows little benefit for most children once they reach school. Coupled with the results of three other studies released since early 1998, these findings make the case for significant reform in the state's approach to early childhood policy. Smart Start should be reformed to 1) provide direct assistance to disadvantaged preschoolers and 2) give North Carolina families more resources with which to improve their children's readiness for school.

(10.01.01) Inquiry #1: Bond, Strange Bond

Summary: The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has proposed a capital spending plan calling for nearly $5 billion over the next decade to modernize and expand the system. To pay for it, UNC wants the authority to raise funds by the issuance of two kinds of bonds that would not be subject to voter approval. While there is undeniable need to renovate academic buildings, taking care of the worst needs over the next four years would cost about $1.1 billion and could be handled through the existing budget process if repair and renovation were made the top university priority. The need for a large-scale construction program is dubious and does not require the use of non-voter-approved bonds.

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